So now we were into it. The racing is heating up and lessons were learned. Friday would be the final of the U19 eight. Again we started with some library time at Pymble (I think all our studying has impressed the coaches as well as the school administration – If I can jump ahead a little bit, the School Principal and deputy in charge of foreign exchange sought out myself and our underclassmen at the end of year banquet and suggested we work out a 4 week exchange program with them. Our underclassmen could go there during our summer (their winter) and not miss any school… Sounds awesome, just don’t stay there!!! After studying we again headed off to the SIRC.. this time we had some valuable race experience and some ideas of how we could improve our race and establish our own rhythm. The girls were excited to head off, and I realized that I hadn’t washed the boat before our race yesterday… Granted it was still clean from the thorough cleansing of Monday, but that is my thing. Call it superstition if you want. It is my ritual before big races to let my brain quiet down for a bit – wax on, wax off – (well no wax actually… they didn’t even allow soap to be used for washing – eco friendly race course.) - water on, water off). As was then my custom (if could be called a custom after 2 races) I hoped on the bicycle and made by way up to the start. Because our warm-up is extended, I can get up to the start a few races before ours and watch as crews lock in and then sit patiently waiting for the green light. I must say, McHart was probably one of, if not the best at getting locked into the stake boat. I knew within a few strokes that this was going to be a better race than yesterday. It was still a little high, but it was much better connected to the work, and they looked composed and powerful as they shifted down to race cadence. I think they knew it pretty soon as well because they began a slow and steady march to the front of the pack. Riding alongside I also pushed my way to the front of the peloton (my housemate had scared me the previous night when he shared a story of a coach who was following a race on a bike, clipped a tire in front of him and ended up in the water in lane zero. If my camera was going to meet the athletes at the podium to take some pictures we both had to get to the front of the pack. Executing their race plan very well, they took their first stab at a planned move in the middle of the race. While it was not world breaking, it was just enough to break open water on the pack and from there they never looked back. It was a very strong race and once finished, I had to crank it up a notch on the bike to make it over to the grandstands and see them on the medals dock. Unfortunately I did not have weekend grandstand passes (I guess even coaches need to pay for those) so my pictures were off from the grassy knoll on the side (which was fine because resourceful Mr. Hart found his way into the grandstands). I almost got in there as well. My host is a regatta organizer and shouted for me to jump the fence… which I did – until security trotted down with a stern look and a pointed finger. I was thinking of making a break for it and grabbing my Gold medal and waving that back at him… but you know this was the kids day, and I didn’t want to steal the show (actually, I was just recalling the tv show “locked up abroad” as I jumped the fence back out of the enclosure). Mr. Hart took some great shots, and while several spectators (enraged that I was forced back out) offered me their tickets I found my way to the edge and taught some Aussie boys from St. Kevin’s how to do the TOGA chant. We sent the girls off in fine style as they climbed back into the shell and headed back to the cool down pond. What an experience it was. This was more the Toga confidence and rhythm that I am used to.